Sermon — Colossians 2:1-5 — 03/04/12
SERMON – FAITH LUTHERAN – LENT 2 – COLOSSIANS 2:1-5 – MARCH 4, 2012
Sermon Text – Colossians 2:1-5
For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
Sermon Theme: Encouragement to keep mining the mystery of God!
Dear friends in Christ,
You may well wonder if what you see in verse 1 of chapter 2 isn’t a misprint or a typo of some kind. Paul’s choice of words sounds odd to our ears – he speaks of “what a great conflict I have FOR you…” We don’t usually talk that way. A conflict isn’t something that we usually have FOR someone – it is WITH someone, between two people or two sides of some kind.
It is helpful to know that the preposition translated as “for” has the basic meaning of “concerning” or “in behalf of.”
Paul’s great conflict wasn’t “with” the people at Colosse – it was concerning them – in particular concerning what they were facing.
What Paul is saying about his conflict concerning them starts back at the end of chapter 1 (vv. 27-29)
There he writes – “God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.”
Paul’s calling from the Lord centered around preaching Christ – leading people into the Gospel to find there the treasures of God’s plan of salvation for them in the Savior. Every ounce of his energy had gone into that work – energy which didn’t have its source in Paul himself, but in the Lord whose message he was proclaiming. This work he was doing is what he means when he speaks of the “conflict” he was facing “for” them.
Initially that proclamation of the Gospel was in person as he went out on his missionary journeys. Now, as he sat in Rome, awaiting his trial, his Gospel ministry was through letters – reaching out even to people that he had not yet met face to face.
So the conflict that Paul was facing FOR the Colossians and others had to do with the continuing work of the Gospel among them – especially now as there were false teachers who were proclaiming their “false Gospel.”
The wording that Paul uses in these verses creates a picture in my mind. He speaks of “attaining to all the riches” there are in Christ, and of the “treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are hidden in Christ.”
I think of all those gold seekers who flooded out to California in the rush of 1849. There were reports of gold being found, and thousands came to make their fortune. But I read how amongst all those who found real gold there was also plenty of “fool’s gold” to be found. I understand that of all the gold that was found in California, there was at least one ship that sailed for Great Britain that was full of “fool’s gold!”
How do you tell the difference? There is a web site I found which gives hints –
1) the quickest test is if you shadow the gold in your pan. Anything that is not gold will become dull or fade. True gold will retain its color and luster even in the shade.
2) stick a pin into it. If the material breaks or crumbles, it isn’t gold. True gold is malleable – you can bend and dent it.
3) last of all, gold is very heavy – lighter materials will move readily under water – gold will not.
And what I consider to be the most interesting of all – it is said that once you have seen your first gold you will never forget it!
Just like it is important to be able to distinguish between real gold and fool’s gold, it is many times more important to be able to distinguish the real treasures of the Gospel from those teachings which are fool’s gold!
But how is one to recognize what is true and what is not?
The answer almost sounds too simple – those treasures are true which are in (v. 2) “the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ.”
The true treasures of the Gospel are those things which God Himself reveals to us concerning Himself in His revelation, in His Word. And that revelation is that Christ has “redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.” The true Gospel riches are that salvation is full and free through Jesus’ perfect life and His innocent sufferings and death. True Gospel wealth is that everything is done for you – “it is by grace you are saved through faith… not of works.”
Those who mine for gold say that once you have seen the real thing, you’ll never forget how to identify it again. To distinguish between true Scriptural gems and those which are merely glass may not be quite that easy – but it is true that the more a person is exposed to the true treasures of God’s Word and what is revealed there, the better suited you will be to recognize that which is false.
These Colossians to whom Paul was writing were well situated, spiritually speaking. Paul in v. 5 writes, “I rejoice to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.” These were believers who had been mining for the riches to be found in the Gospel, and were well established in its truth. But Paul realized the temptation that lay in that very condition. He didn’t want those Colossians to think to themselves that because they were steadfast, because they had been mining the treasures of God, that now they could back off, that they could sit back on their laurels, that they could now lay off and enjoy the fruits of their work in the past.
May that never happen! Paul agonized, he put all his effort into leading these believers to continue to “encourage” each other, to continue to attain – why? V. 4 – “Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.” Keep digging, keep poring over the great treasures of the mystery of God the Father and the Son and their salvation for you. Or as Paul wrote elsewhere, “Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand in the evil day.” Keep yourself protected at all times so when the temptations and false teachings come, then you may be ready.
You have already been seeing the application for you and me today. The devil would have you and me think that we can afford to back off on our mining efforts. We are well established here as a congregation, we have been Christians for the vast majority of our lives. We have heard so much of the Scriptures so many times. Is it of such importance for us to still be vigilant, to still keep on coming to church, to keep on coming to Sunday School, Bible Class – when we are so “there” already?
Paul’s word would be a resounding “yes!” There is always the threat, always the danger that we will be faced with someone who is trying to “deceive you with persuasive words.” (v. 4) There are those many times that the devil comes at you through your friends, through life circumstances, through challenges you face – to try to get you to dig into some other mine to find treasure.
We used to have a neighbor not far from our farm in Fond du Lac – his philosophy regarding his farm equipment was that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” If it still ran, use it. He didn’t bother with doing any regular maintenance – replacing things that were wearing out, keeping things well greased. And he ended up regularly having high replacement bills when things did break – things that would still have been useful if he had done regular maintenance!
It is of spiritual maintenance we are talking this morning! We need to take Paul’s encouragement to heart, to realize for ourselves the urgency he felt, the “great conflict he had for us.” May God help us so that we never let up in encouraging each other in Christ! Let us strive to remain closely “knit” to each other in love! Let our efforts be focused continually on “attaining to all the riches” – that we keep digging into Word of God so that His promises, His strength, His salvation, continues to be our treasure. For in this way we will be filled with God’s “wisdom and knowledge” and will be better suited to recognize what is false, what is “deceitful persuasive words” because we know the true gold, the true treasure of God’s Word!
Prayer: Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word; curb those who by deceit or sword would seek to overthrow your Son and to destroy what He has done! Amen.